Myths of Babylonia and Assyria
Page: 40Babylonians appear before us in the early stages of the historical period they had reached that stage of development set forth so vividly in the Orations of Isocrates: "Those of the gods who are the source to us of good things have the title of Olympians; those whose department is that of calamities and punishments have harsher titles: to the first class both private persons and states erect altars and temples; the second is not worshipped either with prayers or burnt sacrifices, but in their case we perform ceremonies of riddance".
The Sumerians, like the Ancient Egyptians, developed their deities, who reflected the growth of culture, from vague spirit groups, which, like ghosts, were hostile to mankind. Those spirits who could be propitiated were exalted as benevolent deities; those who could not be bargained with were regarded as evil gods and goddesses. A better understanding of the character of Babylonian deities will therefore be obtained by passing the demons and evil spirits under review.
Spirits in Everything and Everywhere--The Bringers of Luck and Misfortune--Germ Theory Anticipated--Early Gods indistinguishable from Demons--Repulsive form of Ea--Spirit Groups as Attendants of Deities--Egyptian, Indian, Greek, and Germanic parallels--Elder Gods as Evil Gods--Animal Demons--The Babylonian "Will-o'-the-Wisp"--"Foreign Devils"--Elves and Fairies--Demon Lovers--"Adam's first wife, Lilith"--Children Charmed against Evil Spirits--The Demon of Nightmare--Ghosts as Enemies of the Living--The Vengeful Dead Mother in Babylonia, India, Europe, and Mexico--Burial Contrast--Calling Back the Dead--Fate of Childless Ghosts--Religious Need for Offspring--Hags and Giants and Composite Monsters--Tempest Fiends--Legend of Adapa and the Storm Demon--Wind Hags of Ancient Britain--Tyrolese Storm Maidens--Zu Bird Legend and Indian Garuda Myth--Legend of the Eagle and the Serpent--The Snake Mother Goddess--Demons and the Moon God--Plague Deities--Classification of Spirits, and Egyptian, Arabian, and Scottish parallels--Traces of Progress from Animism to Monotheism.